Naturals Snap Drillers' Winning Streak
TULSA, Oklahoma - The Tulsa Drillers five-game winning streak came to an end Thursday night with a narrow 2-1 loss to Northwest Arkansas at ONEOK Field. After staging come-from-behind wins the previous two nights, the Drillers attempted another rally on Thursday, tying the game with a run in the seventh inning, but the Naturals quickly broke the tie with what proved to be the winning run in the top of the eighth.
Starting pitchers Carlos Hernandez and Sugar Ray Marimon dominated the early innings, keeping the game scoreless through three quick innings.
The Naturals' Orlando Calixte finally opened the scoring with a solo home run off Hernandez to lead off the top of the fourth. It was his 11th homer of the season.
The Drillers missed a chance to match the run from Calixte in their half of the fourth. Chris O'Dowd led off with a bunt base hit and Ryan Casteel drew a walk. Brian Humphries was retired when he hit a liner off the glove of pitcher Sugar Ray Marimon, but the runners advanced to second and third with only one out in the inning. They remained there when Trevor Story grounded out to third and Joey Wong grounded out to second to end the inning.
Aaron Crow, who is 6-1 in the majors with the Kansas City Royals this season, came on to open the bottom of the seventh. Crow was recently optioned to the Naturals for a few days and is scheduled to return to the big leagues on September 1.
He walked Trevor Story on four straight pitches to open his appearance. He then collected a strange double play when Joey Wong hit a slow chopper to short that Angel Franco fielded and threw to first to barely retire Wong. Story kept running and tried to advance to third on the play but was tagged out by Crow who ran over and covered third on the 6-3-1 double play.
The next batter, Will Swanner, finally got the Drillers on the board when he drilled an offering from Crow into the bullpen in right-centerfield. The opposite-field solo blast was Swanner's fourth at the Double-A level and tied the score at 1-1.
The Naturals wasted little time in going back in front. In the top of the eighth, Oklahoma native Lane Adams led off with a double off reliever Shane Broyles, who was making his ONEOK Field debut. With one out, Adams stole third and scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly from Brian Fletcher.
Crow worked around a one-out single from Delta Cleary Jr. to work a scoreless eighth inning. Malcolm Culver closed the game out with a 1-2-3 ninth. Despite surrendering the run, Crow picked up the win while Culver collected his seventh save.
Hernandez turned in another outstanding start for the Drillers. The lefthander allowed only one run and six hits in seven innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven while lowering his ERA to 2.68.
Crow's final line was two hits and one run allowed in his two innings of work. He walked one batter and did not record a strikeout while throwing 24 total pitches, 13 for strikes.
Tulsa will conclude its series with Northwest Arkansas Friday night at ONEOK Field. The pitching matchup will feature the return of Texas League Pitcher of the Year Tyler Anderson (6-4, 2.08 ERA) from the disabled list for the Drillers and Tim Melville (2-10, 5.62 ERA) for the Naturals. Starting time in downtown Tulsa is set for 7:05 p.m.